Mayor Bowser recently signed into law the Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (hereinafter “Coronavirus Support Act”) that adds further protections for tenants at landlords’ expense. A copy of the portions of the Coronavirus Support Act relevant to landlords can be found here. Below is an outline of landlords’ new duties under the Coronavirus Support Act. Please note that this is meant to be a very basic summary of a very nuanced and complex law and should only be used for informational purposes, not as legal advice. Further, despite being valid law, our City Council is apparently still considering additional legislation that may change some aspects of these provisions. Do not hesitate to contact us with specific questions.
Section 402 Tenant Payment Plans.
o Both commercial and residential landlords must notify all tenants of a rent payment program that grants tenants impacted financially by COVID-19 a minimum of 12 months to pay rent that comes due during the public health emergency and for one year thereafter. A landlord cannot file a case unless the landlord has provided such notification. A tenant who is rejected from plan participation can file an affirmative claim against the landlord, which may have the effect of staying any case filed against the tenant. Thus, every landlord should provide a payment plan enrollment form and a notice to tenant. The notices should be issued in a verifiable manner. Do not hesitate to contact Battino & Sokolow PLLC regarding preparation of these forms.
Section 403. Residential Cleaning.
o Owners or landlords of all residential buildings, including single rooms, condominiums, and cooperatives, must clean common areas or frequently-touched surfaces “on a regular basis.”
Section 404. Eviction Prohibition.
o No new eviction cases can be filed during the public health emergency and for sixty days thereafter. No eviction can be executed during the public health emergency. The public heath emergency currently extends to July 24, 2020, but it is possible the emergency will continue to be extended thereafter so the date on which landlords can file new cases is currently unknown, with September 22, 2020 being the earliest possible date.
Section 405. Residential Tenant Protections. & Section 406. Rent Increase Prohibition.
o All tenant deadlines, including those related to TOPA and notices of intent to vacate, are tolled through the public health emergency.
o Tenants must be refunded the prorated money paid toward amenities that have been restricted during the public health emergency.
o All rent increases for residential units are void and prohibited during the public health emergency and for thirty days after. The rent increase prohibition applies to certain commercial properties, too.
If you have any questions regarding the Coronavirus Support Act, or any other COVID-19 legislation, please contact our office at 202-269-3333 or email Aaron Sokolow at Aaron@SokolowLaw.com, Vivianette Velazquez at Vivianette@SokolowLaw.com, or Morris Battino at MBattino02@gmail.com.